Oscar® winners Yuh-Jung Youn, Daniel Kaluuya and Frances McDormand backstage during the Oscars® at Union Station in Los Angeles. Will film prices be increasingly dominated by streaming services in the future?
– Photo credit: Matt Petit / A.M.P.A.S.

It was always going to be an odd Oscar this year – with cinemas closed for almost a year and many of the big blockbuster films being pushed into the background or slipped out onto streaming platforms – and so it proved .

The profile of the films that won awards this year was at an all-time low. This was reflected in the lack of Oscar response on social media and poor ratings for precursor awards events like the BAFTAs.

The lack of drama at the awards will also be an issue for program makers trying to get the crowd going for catch-up demonstrations in Great Britain. The lack of a glamorous crowd and a consequently heavily discounted red carpet will also make the regular crowd crave more.

Frances McDormand accepts the Oscar® for Actress in a Leading Role during the live broadcast of The 93rd Oscars® at Union Station in Los Angeles
– Photo credit: Todd Wawrychuk / A.M.P.A.S.

Nomadland went as a favorite in the Oscars to win the big prizes – and it lived up to its promises of best picture, best actress for Frances McDormand (in addition to the Oscars won for Fargo and Three Billboards), and best Get director for relative newcomer Chloe Zhao. Nomadland, which tells the true story of America’s largely female, transient elderly population, was only her third feature film.

Elsewhere, the “Best Actor” category was featured as a two-horse race between Anthony Hopkins and the late Chadwick Boseman viewed. In case the Oscar went to 83-year-old Sir Anthony, he was the oldest acting award recipient, beating former record holder Richard Farnsworth, who won for The Straight Story in 2000 at the age of 80.

Emerald Fennell poses backstage with the Oscar® for the original script during the live broadcast of The 93rd Oscars® at Union Station in Los Angeles.
– Photo credit: Matt Petit / A.M.P.A.S.

Other British successes included Get Out actor Daniel Kaluuya, best supporting actor for his role as Fred Hampton in the real-life Black Panther film Judas and the Black Messiah, and author-actor-director Emerald Fennell as best Original script for the revenge drama Promising Young Woman.

British playwright Christopher Hampton shared the Oscar for best adapted screenplay with father’s stage creator, Florian Zeller.

So what about the future? That’s the really big question of the night. It’s not as if the Oscars will ever be held in a train station again – this year it was held at Union Station in Los Angeles to maintain social distancing and comply with Covid regulations – the big question that emerges from the lot belated event this year is how will the Oscars move forward? What will they represent, who will they represent, will there be an outside industry audience for this previously much-revered trophy?

The controversy surrounding the nomination of Roma, the Netflix-funded Mexican drama directed by Alfonso Cuarón, 2019 seems to be long gone. But its inclusion in the “Best Picture” category shocked the film industry, with normally level-headed older statesmen like Steven Spielberg and Martin Scorsese saying they felt that films should be shown on the big screen in a commercial theater be eligible for an Oscar.

Daniel Kaluuya poses behind the scenes with the Oscar® for Best Supporting Actor during the live broadcast of The 93rd Oscars® at Union Station in Los Angeles, CA.
– Photo credit: Matt Petit / A.M.P.A.S.

The pandemic and the rise of streaming services, which are releasing Hollywood films for the first time after the cinemas have closed, have definitely taken this argument into account. The future of Oscar-worthy films is far from certain, however, as the role of cinemas in the modern entertainment landscape has not yet been determined.

It is very unlikely that things will get “normal” again by the time the cinemas do be reopened. Cinemas, film production companies, streaming services, and distributors will get involved for a long time, and I suspect the more complicated dance is deciding who is showing what and when.

As companies like Netflix and Amazon Prime, even independents are becoming digital with their own Platform like Curzon and the BFI insist on either an online premiere or a simultaneous physical / digital opening. You can even limit the number of physical screenings that you can do.

Also, there has long been a certain type of “theme-based” movie or adaptation of a popular novel that was released at that time of year and always considered an Oscar movie , and they were brought to theaters in the excitement that the big Christmas movies were starting to die.

Perhaps these “worthy” films won’t see any theatrical release at all in the years to come? Perhaps movie chains wouldn’t mind missing out on an older audience, who tended to buy less carbonated drinks and popcorn in exchange for extra “date” movies to boost profits ahead of Valentine’s Day.

If those ” Oscar ”films go online the promotion needs to be much better as it is very difficult at the moment to find out which service is hosting which title and when it will be released. At the moment, movies tend to sneak out rather than get off to a high profile start.

I suspect that mainstream cinema will increasingly be the home of big budget spectacles rather than thoughtful dramas. If Netflix and Amazon share their Oscar films with some smaller cinemas, this arrangement could prove beneficial to our major independent cinemas such as Ipswich Film Theater, Woodbridge Riverside, Leiston Cinema, Aldeburgh Cinema and Abbeygate in Bury St Edmunds .

This means that they can really present a different kind of cinema and offer a common alternative to sitting at home and watching a good movie yourself.

It will be interesting to see how that works out everything developed. Make no mistake, this is a crossroads in the life of cinema that is just as important as the coming of sound and the rise of television. Cinema will survive, but it will change, and I suspect that will change very quickly.

The big Oscar winners Best picture: NomadlandBest director: Chloe Zhao (Nomadland) Best actress: Frances McDormand (Nomadland ) Best Actor: Sir Anthony Hopkins (The Father) Best Supporting Actor: Daniel Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) Best Supporting Actress: Yuh-Jung Youn (Minari) Best Cinematography: Erik Messerschmidt (Mank) Best Original Screenplay: Emerald Fennell (Promising young woman) Best adapted script: Christopher Hampton, Florian Zeller (Der Vater)

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Ref: https://www.eadt.co.uk